Tameside is, as its title suggests, named after the River Tame and the Tame Valley which diagonally cuts through the Metropolitan Borough. Lying seven miles due east of Manchester, in the North West region of England, it is a compact borough set in an area of great scenic beauty, with significant industrial heritage and easy communication with the rest of the country. Tameside is about eight miles across – with just under a quarter of a million people living in its 50 square miles. It is bordered on the north by the River Medlock, in the south by the River Etherow and the scenically beautiful Werneth Low, to the east by the Pennines, and to the west by the City of Manchester itself.
Ashton Town Hall, the River Tame at Stalybridge, Hyde Town Hall and Market Square
Unlike most of the other Metropolitan Boroughs, it is not named after a town or a city (such as are Rochdale, Oldham, Wigan, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Manchester and Salford), but came into being as a newly created authority in the early 1970s after boundary changes were instigated by central government, (as did the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford). The Borough has its administrative centre in the town of Ashton-under-Lyne.
In 47 AD, when the Romans reached the Fosse line, the kingdom of Brigantia came under Roman rule, and suffered strict and oppressive measures after the Brigantian revolt of 68 AD. Tameside featured on the road which the Romans built from Manchester to Leeds and a branch to the fort at Melandra ran through the northern part of Mossley, within the present Borough. After Roman withdrawal from Britain in 410 AD, various petty invasions and squabbles between local warlords took place, and by the 7th century Anglian immigrants had moved into the region and occupied the land. Most of the place names of Tameside reflect this influence. The River Tame itself (probably Norse meaning “dark river”), and other places such as Werneth Low (“a place growing alder trees”) as well as Ashton and Denton (the Scandinavian word “ton” indicates a town or settlement) – all show clear Anglian-Continental sources. Oddly, there seems to be little evidence of native British place naming within the borough, suggesting that the Anglian invaders were its first inhabitants and it had been hitherto unoccupied woodlands. By the time of the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066, town and village names had begun to be formalised and to appear in documents of the time. In an entry from the Cheshire Domesday of 1086 the land was in the possession of Hugh d’Avranches, earl of Chester – his possessions were listed as also including Romily, Tintwistle and Werneth. Though Ashton is now the main town of Tameside, it hardly existed as an entity in medieval times, though in 1413 a Market Charter was granted to Sir John Assheton (after whom the town would be named) to be held close to the church of St Mary and the church of St Michael (the latter being St Michael’s in Ashton). The market was held every Monday at the junction of Old Street and Cricket’s Lane, where the town cross stood. The Charter also granted a twice annual fair to be held in July and November. The markets were busy affairs as by the second half of the 16th century Tameside had established a profitable local industry in the production of mixtures of cotton and flax cloth. Later it was to turn over entirely to woven cottons. During the Tudor period there is extensive evidence of a thriving textile industry, which including woollens, due, no doubt, to the excellent sheep grazing pastures on the moorlands to the east towards Saddleworth. Huge flocks of sheep were imported from Ireland to develop the industry – at that time it would still have been a cottage industry with production solely dependant upon hand looms. During the Civil Wars, local Puritanism was very strong, and not surprisingly, most of the towns of Tameside had Parliamentarian sympathies. Robert Duckenfield (1619-1689) served alongside Sir William Brereton in the defence of Manchester in September 1642 and took part in the siege of Wythenshawe Hall, the seat of the Royalist family of the Tattons.
The Arms of Tameside
Shield: “Per Bend Or and Vert a Bend barry wavy Argent and Azure between in chief a Rose Gules barbed and seeded proper and in a base a Garb Or.”
Crest: ” Out of a Mural Crown Gules a demi Lion guardant Or resting the sinister forepaw on an Escutcheon of the Arms. Mantled Gules doubled Or.” Supporters: ” On the dexter a Lion Or gorged with a Chain pendant therefrom a Mullet pierced Sable and on the sinister a male Griffon Gules armed beaked irradiated and gorged with a Chain pendant therefrom a Cogwheel Or”. Motto: “Industry and Integrity”.
Explanation of the Arms
The lower half of the shield depicts the gold (or) wheatsheaf emblem of Cheshire on a green (vert) background. This is separated by a blue (azure) and white (argent) band representing the River Tame from the upper half of the shield which contains the red (gules) rose of Lancashire on a gold (or) background. The crest above the shield has been drawn from the fundamental elements of the Arms of Greater Manchester County. The left hand (sinister) supporter is a gold lion with a black (sable) pierced star (a mullet) hanging from a chain around its neck. The right hand supporter is a red griffin, used to depict dynamism and progress, and hanging from a chain around its neck is a gold cogwheel indicating the industrial aspects of Tameside.